Hybrid Working: Where did it come from?

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As you are probably very aware, the term hybrid working has been floating around a lot over the past few years, especially since the covid pandemic. But what does it really mean and where did it come from?


Hybrid working refers to an approach to work that includes spending time both in the office and working from home or other places where employees can work remotely. 


It feels like hybrid working has been around forever given its prominence in society nowadays and how frequently it is mentioned, and a lot of us have likely encountered it to some degree at work.


However, the hybrid working model has been around for a long time, just not as intensely as it is now. When the internet began to become not only more widely accessible, but good enough to actually use at home in the early 2000s, work slowly started to migrate from the office. People now had the opportunity to work from home if they needed to, although it is worth noting that this was generally for very occasional remote work. 


The development of wireless internet (WiFi) removed the need for cumbersome and impractical ethernet cables and prompted a further increase in the prevalence of hybrid working.  Simultaneously, phones, laptops, and tablets also became far more capable, and throughout the 2010s it quickly became the case that people could really work from anywhere. Even with these advances, the majority of workers still operated from the office for the most part.


Steady growth in the utilisation of hybrid working continued due to the ongoing digitisation of the world as we know it, but nobody could have predicted what the year 2020 would bring. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a remote style of work on us, the likes of which had never been seen before. The government imposed regulations which meant everyone who was able to, had to work from home. Luckily, due to the technological evolution over the past couple of decades, most people were prepared to some extent. A new era of working in pyjamas and endless zoom calls had begun.


The length of time we spent in that fully remote state sparked a major rethink on how work should recommence after the pandemic. Some people relished the chance to work at home and spend more time with family, while others struggled without the day-to-day office routine and the new-found difficulty of trying to collaborate with colleagues effectively. 


Now that we have emerged from the pandemic, many businesses have since committed to a hybrid model of working as they realised that people don’t need to be in the office all the time, and that their employees may actually benefit from spending more time at home. 


This shift to hybrid has brought with it its own challenges, including how to manage such a model of working, its impact on productivity and well-being, and how best to design an office to match hybrid working needs. It represents a colossal change from previous working setups, but it has quickly become the new norm, and this looks firmly set to continue throughout 2023.


At Whiteleys, as office furniture suppliers we are extremely familiar with the changes that the pandemic has brought, and have therefore adapted our services and products to suit the new hybrid world. From space planning and office interior design to full office fit-outs, we can provide you with the help you need to turn your office into the perfect hybrid working environment. 


Check back regularly for more articles on hybrid working, corporate culture and productivity, office design, and workplace well-being.

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